From Fr. Tony Kadavil’s Collection:
1. Bad news and good news:
"I've got some good news and some bad news to tell you. Which would you like to hear first?" the farmer asked. "Why don't you tell me the bad news first?" the banker replied. "Okay," said the farmer, "With the bad drought and inflation and all, I won't be able to pay anything on my mortgage this year, either on the principal or the interest." "Well, that is pretty bad," said the banker. "It gets worse," said the farmer. "I also won't be able to pay anything on the loan for all that machinery I bought, not on the principal or interest." "Wow, is that ever bad!" the banker admitted. "It's worse than that," the farmer continued. "You remember I also borrowed to buy seed and fertilizer and other supplies. Well, I can't pay anything on that either, principal or interest." "That's awful," said the banker, "and that's enough! What's the good news?" "The good news," replied the farmer with a smile, "is that I intend to keep on doing business with you." [John C. Maxwell, Developing the Leaders Around You (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers), p. 71.] I don't know if that was good news for the banker or not. Two of the disciples of Jesus were on the road that leads to Emmaus. They were as low as that farmer because their Master had been crucified like a common thief. But now they’ve heard reports that their Master is not dead at all. Reliable sources have told them that he has appeared to some of their most trusted friends. Was he really alive? The disciples were troubled and afraid. Should they believe the good news or the bad? And that's our dilemma, isn't it? DO WE BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS OR THE BAD? The good news is that Christ is alive. The bad news is how little impact that event is having in the world today.
2. Broken dreams:
Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton, in his book Horns and Halos in Human Nature, tells of one of the weirdest auctions in history. It was held in the city of Washington, D.C. It was an auction of designs, actually patent models of old inventions that did not make it in the marketplace. There were 150,000 designs up for auction. There was an illuminated cat to scare away mice. There was a device to prevent snoring which consisted of a trumpet reaching from the mouth to the ear. One person designed a tube to reach from his mouth to his feet so that his breath would keep his feet warm as he slept. There was an adjustable pulpit which could be raised or lowered. You could hit a button and make the pulpit descend or ascend to dramatically illustrate a point. Obviously, at one time somebody had high hopes for each of those designs which did not make it. Some died in poverty, having spent all of their money trying to sell their dream. One hundred fifty thousand broken dreams! Is there anything sadder? Today’s gospel describes the shattered dreams of two of Jesus’ disciples.
3. Risen Lord in the train.
On her first train trip, a little girl was put into an upper berth by her mother. The mother then assured her that Jesus would watch over her during the night. As the lights were switched off the girl became alarmed and called out softly: "Mom, are you there?" “Yes dear,” her mother replied. A little later the child called in a louder voice: “Daddy, are you also there?” “Yes”, was the reply. After this had been repeated several times, one of the passengers lost patience and shouted: “We’re all here. Your father, your mother, your brothers and sisters and cousins, your uncles and aunts – all are here. Now go to sleep!” There was silence for a while. Then, in a hushed voice the child asked: "Mom, was that Jesus?”
4. The Risen Lord is watching:
Up at the head table in the cafeteria, one of the nuns had placed a big bowl of bright red, fresh, juicy apples. Beside the bowl, she placed a note which read, "Take only one. Remember, Jesus is watching." At the other end of the table was a bowl full of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, still warm from the oven. Beside the bowl was a little note scrawled in a child's handwriting which read, "Take all you want. Jesus is watching the apples!"
5. Where is God?
A couple had two little boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble, and their parents knew that, if any mischief occurred in their neighborhood, their sons were probably involved. The boys’ mother heard that a priest in the downtown parish had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The pastor agreed, but asked to see them individually. So the mother sent her 8-year-old first, in the morning, and fixed the appointment of the older boy with the priest in the afternoon. The priest, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, “Where is God?” The boy’s mouth dropped open and he made no response. So the priest repeated the question in an even sterner tone, “Where is God!!?” Again the boy made no attempt to answer. So the clergyman raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy’s face and bellowed, “WHERE IS GOD!?” The boy screamed and ran directly home and dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him. When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, “What happened?” The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, “We are in BIG trouble this time, Dave. God is missing - and they think WE did it!”
A friend shared with me a beautiful legend about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, there was a large gathering in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, and from these four, the king would select the winner.
The first person presented was a wealthy philanthropist. The king was told that this man was highly deserving of the honor because of his humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor.
The second person was a celebrated physician. The king was told that this doctor was highly deserving of the honor because he had rendered faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years.
The third person was a distinguished judge. The king was told that the judge was worthy because he was noted for his wisdom, his fairness, and his brilliant decisions.
The fourth person presented was an elderly woman. Everyone was quite surprised to see her there, because her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked the part of someone who would be honored as the greatest subject in the kingdom. What chance could she possibly have, when compared to the other three, who had accomplished so much? Even so, there was something about her the look of love in her face, the understanding in her eyes, her quiet confidence.
The king was intrigued, to say the least, and somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was. The answer came: "You see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge? Well, she was their teacher!"
That woman had no wealth, no fortune, and no title, but she had unselfishly given her life to produce great people. There is nothing more powerful or more Christ-like than sacrificial love.
The king could not see the value in the humble lady. He missed the significance of the teacher. Often we miss the value of those around us. I think it would surprise us to know how often we miss the presence of Christ just as Cleopas and his brother missed the significance of the stranger on the road to Emmaus.How many of you here this morning remember "Stone Soup"? No, I don't mean the magazine. No, I don't mean the recipe.
I mean the story. "Stone Soup" is an old folk-tale, told and re-told with slightly different details in dozens of countries and cultures. In case you've forgotten it is a fable that focuses on the ingenuity of some weary travelers who arrive at a small village with nothing. No food, no money, nothing. All they have is a large cooking pot. The travelers are met with suspicion and surliness everywhere they go. No doors are opened to them. No invitations of hospitality are extended.
The travelers then build a fire in the commons of the village square. They fill their cauldron, their big pot with water and one large stone, and place it over the fire. They sit around the pot rubbing their hands in expectation, talking about their anticipation of a great delicacy - "stone soup."
The villagers grow curious and one by one come out to ask the travelers what they are doing. Most importantly, what are they cooking that is exciting them so much? The travelers reply to each villager who approaches that the "stone soup" they are cooking is absolutely the most exquisite soup anyone could ever taste.
But the best could be even better if it received just one more ingredient. To one villager they mention carrots. To another villager they suggest potatoes. To a third villager they muse that a big beef bone would add much to the mixture.
As more villagers approach and more ingredients are suggested, the cauldron of "stone soup" gradually takes on the identity of a rich, thick stew - a stew capable of feeding all of those who contributed to its creation and then some. At the end of the story, all of the villagers and the travelers sit together on the commons and enjoy an unexpected and hearty meal together.
"Stone Soup" is not a story about how to get a "free lunch." "Stone Soup" is a story about the transforming power of hospitality, but a reverse hospitality. It is the weary travelers with empty hands who invite the first wary villager to join them in their watery wares. It is the strangers who offered hospitality to the inhospitable hosts.
"Stone soup" is the story of a gift of calories and community to a village that was too scared to share...
_______________________Peace Is a Possibility
Lucy of Peanuts cartoon fame, pictured with an air of discouragement, questions, "Do you think that life has any meaning when you have failed nine spelling tests in a row, and your teacher hates you?" While most likely for very different reasons, I rather suspect that most of us gathered this morning for worship have experienced our own times of despair, a time when it feels as if all of life is falling in upon us. Each of us has known times of anguish and despair, times when we have felt all alone, times of confusion and pain.
John Wesley spoke of his experience of encountering the grace of God firsthand as a time when his heart was strangely warmed. Burning hearts, hearts strangely warmed - are these not indications of an Easter power and presence within us, the gift of the risen Christ's Spirit? Burning hearts, hearts strangely warmed, are hearts ablaze with the promise of resurrection and new life, with the good news that fear and death do not have the final word, that love is stronger than hatred, that peace is indeed a possibility.
Joel D. Kline, Hearts Strangely Warmed
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For more information CLICK HERE._____________________
Slow to Recognize Greatness
Karl Barth, one of the twentieth century's most famous theologians, was on a streetcar one day in Basel, Switzerland, where he lived and lectured. A tourist to the city climbed on the streetcar and sat down next to Barth. The two men started chatting with each other. "Are you new to the city?" Barth inquired.
"Yes," said the tourist."Is there anything you would particularly like to see in this city?" asked Barth.
"Yes," he said, "I'd love to meet the famous theologian Karl Barth. Do you know him?"
Barth replied, "Well as a matter of fact, I do. I give him a shave every morning."
The tourist got off the streetcar quite delighted. He went back to his hotel saying to himself, "I met Karl Barth's barber today."
That amuses me. That tourist was in the presence of the very person he most wanted to meet, but even with the most obvious clue, he never realized that the man with whom he was talking was the great man himself.
It reminds me of Mary's reaction on Easter morning. In her grief, she thinks the man she is speaking to is the gardener. It is not, of course. Until he called her name she did not realize that she was speaking with the risen Christ.
And, of course, it reminds me of that scene on the road to Emmaus, when later that same Easter day, two of the disciples walk for a while with the resurrected Jesus, and they, too, had no idea with whom they were conversing.
King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
_______________________Recognizing at Last!
In the ancient Greek myth The Odyssey we read the epic tale of Odysseus. Odysseus was the valiant warrior who fought so bravely in the Trojan War. But, according to legend, his homeward journey after that war was interrupted for many years as the gods had decided to test Odysseus' true mettle through a series of trials. His journeys carried him far and wide as he encountered mythic beasts and lands, many of which have passed into common parlance: the Cyclops, the Procrustean bed, Scylla and Charybdis, the sirens' voices.
Meanwhile, back at his home, Odysseus' wife and family presume he must have died en route back from Troy. Finally, however, the day came when the gods released Odysseus and he arrives back home at last. But instead of simply waltzing through the front door and crying out some Greek equivalent of, "Honey, I'm home!" Odysseus decides that he wants to determine if anything has changed during his long absence. Did his wife still love him? Had she been faithful? In order to find out, Odysseus disguises himself so as to approach his home looking like a stranger in need of temporary lodging.
The housekeeper, Euryclea, welcomes the apparent traveler and performs for him the then-standard practice of foot-washing. As she does so, Euryclea regales the stranger with anecdotes about her long-lost master, Odysseus, whom she had also served as a nurse when he was young. She told the traveler about how long her master has been missing and she noted, too, that by then Odysseus would be about the same age and of about the same build as the man whose feet she was washing. Now when Odysseus had been a young boy, he was once gored by a wild boar, leaving a nasty scar on his leg. As Euryclea went about her servile task, suddenly her hand brushed against that old scar and instantly her eyes were opened and she recognized, with great joy, her beloved friend and master!
Recognition scenes like that have long exercised a strong pull on the human heart. Sometimes this can be used for comedic effect, as in any number of episodes on the old I Love Lucy show when Lucy would disguise herself so as to worm her way into one of her husband, Rickie's, shows. And you always waited eagerly for that moment when Desi Arnaz's eyes would widen right before he'd exclaim, "Luuucccy!" But such shocks of recognition are also the stuff of high drama, as in The Odyssey and any number of plays, novels, and films across the centuries. And, of course, in also Luke 24.
Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
______________________________________From the Confessions of St. Augustine
One of the greatest voices of the church was St. Augustine. He lived between the 4th and 5th centuries in Rome and was a Bishop. After Rome fell and faded into dust it was largely Augustine's writings that kept Christianity alive and made it the most influential movement the world had ever known. It is remarkable that between the 8th and 12th centuries his writings were more widely read than any other. And that was 400 to 700 years after his death.
But he was not always a saint. Before he was converted at age 29 he lived to fulfill every lust and pleasure. But Augustine had one great quality that saved his pitiful life - a praying mother. She never gave up on him until one day he stopped long enough to listen to the voices around him. Augustine had just heard a sermon by Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.
We are told in public speaking and preaching classes not to read long quotes but I'm going to do it anyway and read something that Augustine wrote. These two paragraphs shaped the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people throughout history. He is looking back on his conversion to Christianity and the convictions of his heart. Here's the quote:
"One day, under deep conviction: I cast myself down I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving full vent to my tears; and the floods of mine eyes gushed out...So was I weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighboring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting and oft repeating, "Take up and read; Take up and read." Instantly, my countenance altered, I began to think most intently whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like.
So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book, and read the first chapter I should find... Eagerly then I returned to the place where Alypius (his friend) was sitting; for there had I laid the volume of the Apostle. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: 'Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh...' No further would I read; nor needed I for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away."
Adapted from St. Augustine, The Confessions of St. Augustine
Abide With Us
In the King James Version of the Bible, the invitation of the two travelers reads, "Abide with me; for it is toward evening and the day is far spent," words which were the inspiration for that beloved hymn, "Abide with me/Fast falls the eventide." The hymn was written by Henry Francis Lyte, for 25 years the vicar of the parish at Devonshire, England. He was 54 years old, broken in health and saddened by dissensions in his congregation. On Sunday, September 4, 1847 he preached his farewell sermon and went home to rest. After tea in the afternoon, he retired to his study. In an hour or two, he rejoined his family, holding in his hand the manuscript of his immortal hymn.
Despite what most think, Lyte's "eventide" has nothing to do with the end of the natural day but rather the end of life. "Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day/Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away." The words are about the faith that faces life and death fearlessly and triumphantly in the light of the cross and the empty tomb....East of Easter. Thus Lyte could conclude, "Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee/In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me." Vicar Lyte died three months later.
David E. Leininger, East of Easter
___________________________Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend.
___________________________Three Table Fellowships
"The Scriptures speak of three kinds of table fellowship that Jesus keeps with his own: daily fellowship at table, the table fellowship of the Lord's Supper, and the final table fellowship in the kingdom of God. But in all three, the one thing that counts is that 'their eyes were opened, and they knew him.'
"The fellowship of the table teaches Christians that here they still eat the perishable bread of the earthly pilgrimage. But if they share this bread with one another, they shall also one day receive the imperishable bread together in the Father's house."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1954), 66.
_________________________The Resurrection Changes Everything
There's a story about a young boy named Walter Elias. Born in the city, his parents one day moved out to the country to become farmers. Walter had a vivid imagination and the farm was the perfect place for a young boy and a wondering mind. One day in the apple orchard he was amazed when he saw sitting on a branch of one of the apple trees an owl. He just stood there and stared at the owl. He thought about what his father had told him about owls: owls always rested during the day because they hunted throughout the night. This owl was asleep. He also thought that this owl might make a great pet.
Being careful not to make any noises he stepped over sticks and leaves. The owl was in a deep sleep because it never heard Walter Elias walking toward it. Finally, standing under the owl, he reached up and grabbed the owl by the legs. Now, the events that followed are difficult to explain. Suddenly everything was utter chaos. The owl came to life. Walter's thoughts about keeping the bird as a pet were quickly forgotten. The air filled with wings, and feathers, and screaming. In the excitement Walter held the legs tighter. And in his panic, Walter Elias, still holding on to the owl, threw it to the ground and stomped it to death. After things calmed down, Walter looked at the now dead and bloody bird and began to cry. He ran back to the farm, obtained a shovel, and buried the owl in the orchard.
At night he would dream of that owl. As the years passed he never got over what had happened that summer day. Deep down it affected him for the rest of his life. As an older man he said he never, ever killed anything again. Do you see it? Something significant happened after that event. Something that Walter didn’t miss. Something which transformed Walter Elias, something that redeemed him from the pit of despair, something that resurrected him, something that made Walter Elias into someone who we all have experienced in some way. You see his name changed to Walt Disney who created Mickey Mouse, Goofy and all those wonderful cartoon animals.